Mary Catherine Ronzani
December 12, 1933 – March 31, 2020
Age 86 of Eagan. A well-loved sister, friend, teacher and colleague, Mary Ronzani passed away at her Eagan Pointe residence, under the care of Minnesota Hospice, on March 31, 2020. Mary was born in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, on December 12, 1933, to Helen and Anthony Ronzani. When the family moved to St. Paul, Mary graduated from St. Catherine’s University. She subsequently taught there before moving to the Burnsville public school district. There she taught English and served as librarian/media specialist at Burnsville High School, where she was described by her students as one “who cares. She makes us want to learn. She is the ideal of an educated person and will always be, above all, an educator.” On dedicating an annual yearbook to Mary their words were, “We can only say ‘We like her best. Better yet, we love her.’”
Mary was also a traveler; she spent a year teaching in Greece as a Fulbright Scholar, which whetted her appetite to explore other countries. Taking pride in her Italian-Polish heritage, she was fascinated by family genealogy. She loved literature and the arts and treasured the friendships from her opera club, book clubs, church groups and neighbors. Always the educator, Mary volunteered for many years recording text books for the blind and tutoring students studying for their U.S. citizenship test. Even in retirement, Mary once volunteered to reorganize a university library from top to bottom.
She was an integral part of her extended family, and “classy Aunt Mary” could spark many a conversation around family dinner tables whether in Minnesota, Wisconsin or California. Her lifelong curiosity and commitment to learning was coupled with a gift for friendship and a deep spirituality, all of which marked and shaped her life.
Mary’s time of living with cancer was brief. Throughout her preceding years of physical diminishment, Mary met each challenge with deep faith and remarkable strength. She was ever grateful to her dedicated caregivers and all who reached out to her.
Mary is survived by her sister, Catherine Clare Ronzani (husband Bruce Lescher) of San Leandro, CA; niece Catherine Lilly of Eau Claire, WI; nephews Michael Lilly (Jill) of Madison, WI and Timothy Lilly (Sarah) of Eau Claire, WI, grandnieces Olivia, Cecilia and grandnephew Jack, along with beloved aunt Mary Jane Geary of Palatine, IL, cousins, sister-in-law Yvonne Ronzani of Sonoma, CA and “other California sis” Marlene DeNardo of Walnut Creek, CA. Mary is predeceased by her parents, her sister Barbara & husband Tom Lilly, and brother Peter Ronzani.
A celebration of Mary’s life will be held at a future date and will be posted here. Memorials may be sent to Minnesota Hospice, Holy Family Maronite Catholic Church in Mendota Heights, or a charity of your choice.